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foggidawn reads in 2018, thread 1

This topic was continued by foggidawn reads in 2018, thread 2.

75 Books Challenge for 2018

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Edited: Jan 5, 12:10pm Top

Welcome! I'm foggi, and this is my eleventh year on LibraryThing and my eighth year in this group! I'm a collection development librarian/youth materials selector (means I buy all the kids' and teen books) for the public library system in a medium-sized Ohio town, and a voracious reader.

I'll read anything that catches my fancy, but here are some of the kinds of books I particularly like:

Books for kids and teens

Fantasy for any age -- plus the occasional work of science fiction

Inspirational fiction, if the writing is good

Mysteries, particularly cozies and golden age British detective stories

The occasional memoir or biography

Here are some of the other things I like, which can distract me from reading, but which I may occasionally post about here:

Theatre -- both viewing live theatre and participating in community theatre. I didn't do any of the latter in 2017, but maybe I will get back into it in 2018.

Sewing -- it's a love/hate relationship, really. I'm only barely proficient at it, so it's slow going when I get on a sewing kick, but when it goes right, I love the results.

Gardening -- last year I had the tiniest, saddest garden, but I'm hoping to be able to have a slightly larger, somewhat happier one this year.

Gaming -- I love board games when I can find people to play them with (which is not as often as I like) and I occasionally play video games, but most often I waste my time playing games on my phone. Right now, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, Two Dots, and Pokemon Go.

Dogs -- you can see my dog Sophie in the photo above, and 2018 might also be the year I obtain a second dog as a companion for her.

Family -- I recently got the exciting news that I'm going to be an aunt in mid-2018, so I'm looking forward to that! This is also the year my parents retire and move to their newly-built cabin in rural Pennsylvania, so there will be times I go help them with that transition.

Thanks for visiting my thread!

Edited: Mar 18, 8:47pm Top

2018 Reading Resolution

Last year, for the first time, I made a bookish reading resolution: to read or discard some of my oldest TBR books. I read six, discarded six (most of which I tried reading and decided I could do without), and am in the process of finishing one more that I started reading a few days before the end of the year. With that modest success under my belt, I'm going to make a new resolution: to read some of my long-unread "classics."

I've chosen 10 books, many of them fairly short. In case you can't see the titles in the above picture, they are:

Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather finished 3/17/18
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O'Connor
The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy
The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain
Delta Wedding by Eudora Welty
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde finished 2/11/18

That seems like something I can accomplish in a year, especially if I focus on one per month and don't let myself fall too far behind.

Edited: Jan 4, 11:07am Top

I just can’t resist the end-of-year book meme!

Describe yourself: I’m Just No Good at Rhyming

Describe how you feel: Even More Awesome

Describe where you currently live: Far from the Tree

If you could go anywhere, where would you go: The Starlit Wood

Your favorite form of transportation: The Ship of the Dead

Your best friend is: The Lost Frost Girl

You and your friends are: Saints and Misfits

What’s the weather like: Wintersong

You fear: The Hate U Give

What is the best advice you have to give: All in the Timing

Thought for the day: We Are Never Meeting in Real Life

How you would like to die: Drawn Away

Your soul’s present condition: Like a River Glorious

Edited: Jan 4, 11:03am Top

Jan 1, 4:38pm Top

Happy New Year, Foggi! May you have some great reads in 2018.

Jan 1, 4:41pm Top

Hello, Foggi, happy reading in 2018!

Jan 1, 5:00pm Top

Hi, Kriti and Anita! Thanks for visiting!

Jan 1, 7:29pm Top

Welcome back! Happy new year!

Jan 1, 8:15pm Top

Happy new thread!

Jan 1, 11:06pm Top

Dropping off a
And wishing you

Jan 2, 12:22am Top

Happy 2018 reading!

Jan 2, 12:50am Top

Happy New Year
Happy New Group here
This place is full of friends
I hope it never ends
It brew of erudition and good cheer.

Jan 3, 4:02pm Top

Thanks for dropping by, Jim, Zoe, Roni, Lori, and Paul!

I still haven't finished a book, which seems ominous for my reading goals this year, but I've made good progress on both a print book and an audiobook.

Jan 3, 8:16pm Top

Happy New Year!

Jan 4, 10:26am Top

>14 compskibook: Thanks, compski! How are the slopes up in your neck of the woods?

Jan 4, 10:43am Top

Happy New Year, Foggi. Good luck with your reading goals for 2018.

Edited: Jan 4, 11:42am Top

>16 BLBera: Thanks!

I've just finished all of my set-up posts above, so if you posted on this thread early on, don't miss my 2018 Reading Resolution ( >2 foggidawn: ), the ever-popular End-Of-Year Book Meme ( >3 foggidawn: ), or my Favorite Books of 2017 ( >4 foggidawn: )! I also updated my bio with some of the things that I'm interested in and/or excited about this year.

Jan 4, 11:47am Top

Found and starred, Foggi. Wishing you luck with your classics reading goal!

Jan 4, 11:59am Top

>18 MickyFine: Thanks! I'm feeling optimistic, even though we're four days in and I haven't finished a book yet, much less started one of my classics!

Jan 4, 1:11pm Top

Happy New Year, foggy!

Jan 4, 2:51pm Top

>20 humouress: Thanks! I love that quote.

Jan 4, 3:59pm Top

>19 foggidawn: Weirdly, I've done a book a day so far and I'm likely to finish another tonight (it's a novella so no biggie). I'm sure I'll slow down soon when I get to some chunkier/denser reads.

Edited: Jan 4, 4:36pm Top

Happy New Year To You Foggy. Already, I've added to of your favorite reads to my tbr pile.

Strange the Dreamer and The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street look good.

I received Turtles All the Way Down for a Christmas present .

May you have lots of books to read, and plenty of space to put them.

Edited: Jan 4, 4:57pm Top

>22 MickyFine: Enjoy it while it lasts! I'm hoping to get some serious reading done during the next few days -- it's supposed to be bitterly cold here, so hibernating with a book and some tea seems like the thing to do.

>23 Whisper1: Oh, I think you will love all three of the books you mention! And I would love to have that many shelves. I need to tidy up my "library" and take some fresh pictures to post here.

Edited: Jan 4, 8:06pm Top

Found your thread, and am dropping a star!

We have some things in common, including the self-challenge to read classics in 2018. Hope to see you in my thread(s).

Edited: Jan 5, 9:05am Top

(1 book read)

That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E. K. Johnston — In a near-future setting based on an alternate history British empire, Princess Victoria-Margaret visits Canada in disguise, in order to have a debut like other girls and a summer of freedom before she becomes too caught up in her responsibilities as future queen. Then, stuff happens — so much stuff that I can’t begin to summarize it here!

I’m . . . not sure what to think about this book, really. The characters are interesting, the worldbuilding complex. The pacing is pretty slow, so if you need a book to immediately grab you and start running, this is not the one for you. The ending might not be exactly what one would expect, though I did see the direction in which it was trending toward the last quarter of the book. I don’t want to provide any spoilers, so I’ll just say, as I said above, that I’m not entirely sure what to think. If you’re intrigued by the idea of an alternate British empire, you might give it a try for yourself.

I listened to the audiobook, narrated by the incomparable Katherine Kellgren, and all aspects of the audiobook production were very well done, indeed.

Jan 4, 10:20pm Top

>21 foggidawn: You’re welcome. I like it too. May it come true.

Jan 4, 10:22pm Top

Hi, foggi. Dropping a star.

>1 foggidawn: Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp immediately caught my attention. When the boys were young, we used to play Animal Crossing: City Folk on the Wii, and I had such fond memories that I immediately downloaded Pocket Camp. My friend ID is 1571 0221 191 and I'm SherlockMom, if you'd like to add me!

Jan 5, 12:18am Top

Happy New Year, foggi! You're starred. I hope you have a wonderful reading year.

Great list of classics to read! Death Comes for the Archbishop is my favorite Willa Cather, and is in my top ten. Wonderful book. You'll want to visit Santa Fe if you haven't already!

I listened to The Great Gatsby a few years ago and enjoyed it as well. Most audiobooks are very "clean" but occasionally you find one that has other noises in it, and I love those even more. Last year I listened to Les Miserables and heard birdsong and other noises- like the narrator was by an open window. When I listened to Gatsby I heard pages turning and other sounds - it felt like the narrator was telling me a story in some study by a fire over a scotch or something. Great reading experience.

Jan 5, 1:09am Top

Hi Foggi! It only took me 5 days to get around to the new years round ups. So HAPPY NEW YEAR!! I still have unfinished reviews and haven't even started the meme which is my favorite part of the end of the year. Here's to all of us getting back in the groove this year!

Jan 5, 9:11am Top

>28 rretzler: My brother and I used to play City Folk, too! I'll be sure to friend you next time I log on.

>29 AMQS: I visited Santa Fe . . . oh, probably 15 years ago now, but it's a place that leaves a vivid impression! The Cather book is one of the ones I'm most looking forward to. I thought about starting with it, but maybe I'll save it for when I need a little motivation. That's neat, about the audiobooks.

>30 leahbird: Happy New Year! I'm in favor of us all getting back in the groove, for sure!

Jan 5, 12:17pm Top

Thanks for the warm welcome! I see we have some books and want-to-reads in common. I loved Station Eleven, and Jane, Unlimited is on my tbr. I've also just started reading some Willa Cather and have enjoyed her books so far.

Looking forward to seeing what you read- That Inevitable Victorian Thing sounds right up my alley- I'll have to give it a try.

Jan 6, 4:35am Top

>26 foggidawn: I read That Inevitable Victorian Thing last year and it is a hard one to comment on without spoiling it for new readers. I really liked The Story of Owen and have read all her books apart from Spindle and the Star Wars one.

From your classics list, fairly recent reads for me have been The Tale of Two Cities & Dorian Gray - both really good. I keep thinking about picking up The Innocents Abroad but hasn't happened as yet.

From your best reads - I need to pick up Strange the dreamer, I've seen it on two best of lists now & The War I finally won.

Jan 6, 7:01am Top

Happy New Year! Good luck with your challenges this year. :)

Edited: Jan 6, 12:43pm Top

>32 jennyifer24: Good to see you over here!

>33 avatiakh: Yes, it is a hard book to review for just that reason!

>34 rosylibrarian: Thanks!

Edited: Jan 8, 9:07am Top

(2 books read)

The Phoenix and the Carpet by E. Nesbit — Cyril, Robert, Anthea, and Jane are rather hard on their belongings. When their old nursery carpet is destroyed in an accident with some fireworks, their mother replaces it with a bargain carpet from a salesman. When that carpet arrives, it is rolled around an egg with a most extraordinary appearance — and when that egg accidentally falls into the fire, a new set of adventures begins.

I always enjoy Nesbit’s books. Such good characters, and such fantastical plots! This book is actually the sequel to Five Children and It, but it’s not necessary to have read that book (I hadn’t, and I was able to follow along just fine). I’m a little sad that I never read these books as a child, because I know I would have enjoyed them!

Jan 6, 2:15pm Top

Hi Foggi...
Love your end of year book meme

Jan 6, 3:19pm Top

>37 tangledthread: Thanks! I had fun doing it.

Edited: Jan 8, 9:05am Top

(3 books read)

Landscape with Invisible Hand by M. T. Anderson — When the aliens came, they brought with them plentiful technology to upgrade manufacturing, medicine, farming, and every aspect of human life. Their arrival brought about the end of work, which immediately heightened the divide between rich and poor. Now, a few lucky humans provide services or entertainment for the vuvv. Adam and his girlfriend Chloe hate each other, but they signed up to be on a channel for the aliens to view (vuvv are fascinated with human courtship rituals), and the money they bring in is keeping their families afloat. Adam, a visual artist, desperately wants to find another way to make money, but how far will he have to go?

Like most of Anderson’s work, this novella is both thought-provoking and depressing. I’m sure I’ll be pondering it for the next few days.

Jan 6, 4:11pm Top

Oh, the Nesbit books, such fun!

Jan 7, 2:12am Top

>36 foggidawn: I've got to read more books by E Nesbit. I enjoyed Five Children and It so much

Jan 7, 7:52pm Top

>40 ronincats: Right? I can’t believe I never read them when I was little.

>41 rretzler: That’s how I feel every time I read one.

Edited: Jan 8, 9:05am Top

(4 books read)

China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan — Rachel and Nick are finally getting married. Rachel wishes she had been able to locate her biological father before the wedding, but she has no doubts about marrying Nick, no matter what crazy stuff happened a couple years ago, when they visited his family in Singapore. Then, during the wedding rehearsal, Nick’s estranged mother flies in to tell them that she has located Rachel’s father. He’s a prominent politician in mainland China, and he’s very interested in establishing a relationship with Rachel (his wife, less so). Rachel and Nick adjust their honeymoon plans to include an extended visit to China — but will this visit to Asia be less fraught with drama than their last trip?

I loved Crazy Rich Asians when I read it last year, so picking up this sequel was a no-brainer. I found it just as much fun as its predecessor. The shenanigans of the obscenely rich continue to amuse.

Jan 7, 9:20pm Top

::says in a whisper:: I've never read anything by E. Nesbit...

Jan 7, 9:47pm Top

>43 foggidawn: I really loved both Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend! Such soapy fun :D And from your 2017 favorites list, I've been meaning to read both Station Eleven and Jane, Unlimited. Star dropped!

Edited: Jan 7, 11:46pm Top

>44 fuzzi: *gasp* The Railway Children?

>43 foggidawn: Maybe I should check these out....

Jan 8, 7:32am Top

>44 fuzzi: Neither had I, until a few years ago! It’s not too late!

>45 Miss_Moneypenny: Thanks for dropping by! “Soapy fun” is the perfect description for that series.

>46 humouress: They’re not exactly incredibly deep and meaningful books, but they sure are fun!

Jan 8, 10:59am Top

>43 foggidawn: Ooo, I've been looking for soapy fun books.

Jan 8, 4:57pm Top

>43 foggidawn: Looks like you had about the same reaction to that one that I did. I still haven't managed to get around to the third book yet. Maybe it'll happen this year. :)

Jan 8, 11:14pm Top

>44 fuzzi: fuzzi, somehow I missed a lot of childhood classics growing up. My mom had a number of books on the bookshelf on her bed head-board that were fascinating to me, including Animal Farm and my grandmother, an English teacher, had a great library, including a number of mysteries. So I was probably about 8-9 when I started reading adult books, and rarely read much in the way of children's stories, except for Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louisa May Alcott, the Anne of Green Gables series and some of A Wrinkle in Time series. I started reading Agatha Christie in 3rd or 4th grade, and then Stephen King and horror in 5th grade. So I missed a lot of authors like E Nesbit, only reading them as an adult.

Jan 9, 11:22am Top

>48 rosylibrarian: Yep, these would work!

>49 MickyFine: I have the third one checked out.

>50 rretzler: Wow, you did start reading up early! I didn't get to Christie and other adult mysteries until I was in my teens, though I read some of my mother's gothic romances (so much Victoria Holt) when I was 11 or 12. My main problem was that I was resistant to suggestions, so if I didn't stumble over a book on my own (or if I developed an unreasonable aversion to it based on the title, the cover art, or having too many well-meaning adults trying to get me to read it), I probably didn't read it. Nesbit must not have featured strongly in my childhood public library.

Edited: Jan 9, 1:01pm Top

>50 rretzler: your childhood sounds a bit like my childhood. I have two older sisters, and raided their bookshelves from an early age. I was reading adult books like those by Jack London, Charles Dickens, and George Orwell by 8 or 9, and The Lord of the Rings by 11. I missed a lot of juvenile titles due to my sprint into adultbookland, but I have been discovering them since I had my own children. I didn't read the Anne of Green Gables series until the series came out in the 1990s, and didn't discover the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary until then as well.

Jan 9, 1:44pm Top

>52 fuzzi: I also don't have older siblings, so that may have helped me not jump so quickly into "adultbookland!"

Jan 9, 3:43pm Top

>51 foggidawn: Oooh, I look forward to your thoughts. :)

Jan 9, 4:18pm Top

>53 foggidawn: but I'm enjoying children's books now! :)

>46 humouress: I've now put The Railway Children on my TBR list.

Jan 9, 4:50pm Top

>54 MickyFine: I'm sure I will have some. ;-)

>55 fuzzi: Never too late, right?

Edited: Jan 10, 9:06am Top

(5 books read)

Real Friends by Shannon Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham — In this graphic memoir for young readers, Hale depicts her struggles with friendships throughout her elementary years, from making and losing a best friend, to being a less-popular member of an in-crowd, to branching out and making new friendships. She also touches on a difficult relationship with an older sister.

This is a very heartfelt and realistic examination of childhood friendships. A lot of Hale’s experiences were familiar to me, and I bet other readers will feel the same. Recommended to fans of Victoria Jamieson and Raina Telgemeier.

Edited: Jan 10, 8:00am Top

>57 foggidawn: I need to get round to this one, and I bet Charlie would like it, too. I should see if the library has it...

ETA: Library *does* have it - I may swing by to pick it up this afternoon.

Jan 10, 9:20am Top

>58 scaifea: Hope you both enjoy it!

Jan 10, 9:46pm Top

>51 foggidawn: foggi, we also (mom and I) read a lot of Victoria Holt. I really enjoyed those! I try to reread one a year, but I don't think I managed one last year. Mom also used to read a lot of Susan Howatch and some Emilie Loring. Loring was a precursor to the Harlequin romances, but I always felt that her books had a more substantial plot than the vast majority of Harlequins. I try to find her novels as well, but I think she's been out of print for a long time.

>52 fuzzi: fuzzi, kids are a great way to discover great books. Except for Dr. Seuss and Beginner Books - I also missed out on a lot of classics that I read to my boys.

Jan 11, 8:32am Top

>60 rretzler: I enjoyed them, too, and occasionally reread one, though I haven't lately. I remember my grandmother questioning whether I was allowed to read those, and I was bemused -- my parents never told me I wasn't allowed to read something.

Jan 11, 10:44am Top

>61 foggidawn: I was never told I was not allowed to read something, but my older sister was told by a librarian that she could not borrow one of Laura Ingalls Wilder's books because it would be "too hard" for her to read! I think she was about 7 at the time. I suspect that either my mother went back and "clarified" things with the librarian, or borrowed it herself to get around the prohibition.

I discovered Thomas Costain and Lew Wallace on my mother's bookshelves, never would have read those in school!

Jan 11, 3:17pm Top

>62 fuzzi: Wow! I never got that from a librarian, either -- though I do like to tell people about the 4-book limit on juvenile cards my small-town library had when I was growing up. It made for frequent visits to the library, especially during the summer! Fortunately, I could walk there from my Dad's workplace downtown.

Jan 11, 3:23pm Top

No new reading to report, but my part of the world is supposed to get slammed with a snow and ice storm tomorrow afternoon and evening. I have plans to leave work early (hopefully before the roads get slick) and spend some quality time reading this weekend. In fact, if I get some cleaning and cooking done this evening, I might declare the weekend my own personal readathon. If the roads are clear enough, I'll still go to church on Sunday, but other than that, I am not venturing out! So, prepare yourselves for book bullets...

Jan 11, 8:05pm Top

Yay! Foggi might get bad weather! ;)

Jan 11, 9:12pm Top

>62 fuzzi:
When I was young the library in my town had a rule that you had to be 12 to go in the adult section.

Edited: Jan 12, 12:13pm Top

I’m so sad tonight — just learned via Facebook that the inimitable Katy Kellgren, my favorite audiobook narrator ever, passed away yesterday after a four-year battle with cancer. I know some of you are also fans of hers.

I’m thankful for the body of work she leaves behind, and also that I had the chance to meet her and tell her how very much I admired her at a conference in 2013. Here's a photo from the 2013 Odyssey Awards celebration -- sorry, it's a bit blurry.

So very sad.

Jan 12, 11:25am Top


Jan 12, 11:26am Top

Jan 12, 3:22pm Top

>67 foggidawn: Oh no, that is awful!

Jan 12, 8:11pm Top

>65 compskibook: We are, indeed! Not as bad as they were predicting at one point, but yucky enough that I am glad to be holding to my weekend plans of staying inside.

>66 Deedledee: and >69 fuzzi: Hard to believe, isn’t it?

>68 norabelle414: I knew you would share my distress at this news. :-(

>70 rosylibrarian: So heartbreaking.

Edited: Jan 15, 10:33am Top

(6 books read)

Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan — Nick Young hasn’t spoken to his grandmother in nearly five years, and now she is dying. At his wife Rachel’s urging, Nick travels back to Singapore to make peace with his Ah Ma. There, he discovers a tangle of relatives, all planning and scheming and wondering: who will inherit Tyersall Park, his grandmother’s sprawling estate?

Though it has its moments of hilarity, this book is a little deeper than the two before it, dealing as it does with themes of death and legacy. I found it a satisfying conclusion to the story arc for these characters.

Jan 12, 8:28pm Top

>67 foggidawn: Very sad!

>64 foggidawn: In Dublin, our bad weather didn't start when they thought it would. They sent all the kids home from school right after lunch time, but it didn't even start to snow until closer to 3 or 4. We have about an inch now and its still snowing, but I don't think the roads ever got very bad.

>61 foggidawn: >62 fuzzi: I was never told I wasn't allowed to read something either. When I was 12 or so, my best friend and I discovered Harold Robbins, both our mothers had a couple of his books, and we read several. But that was the 70s and I don't think parents were as strict with books, movies, and television as they seem to be now.

Jan 12, 8:33pm Top

>73 rretzler: Ours started falling about when they predicted, but didn’t really start accumulating until early evening. I’m guessing we’ll end up with around 3 inches, not the 8-12 they were calling for at one point. I’m just glad that the ice wasn’t as bad as they were saying!

Jan 12, 10:10pm Top

>67 foggidawn: I was really sorry to hear that, too. I never had a chance to meet her, but she's one of my all-time favorite narrators and I was thinking of continuing a listen of the Bloody Jack series in her honor.

Jan 13, 8:11am Top

>75 bell7: I did think of re-listening to the Bloody Jack series, but . . . not yet.

Jan 13, 4:39pm Top

>72 foggidawn: Glad to hear the third book is just as solid as the previous two. Now to wait for it to come up in the shuffle.

Edited: Jan 15, 10:32am Top

(7 books read)

WhatsHisFace by Gordon Korman — reviewing this elsewhere; just including it in my count here.

Jan 14, 12:45am Top

>67 foggidawn: Oh that is terrible to hear about Kat Kellgren. She was soooooo talented. There's a new Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place book coming out soon and I was expecting to hear her wonderful Penelope Lumley. Either way, it will be incredibly sad to listen to.

Jan 14, 10:49am Top

Hope you're surviving the snow. I think we finally got about 3 inches. It's really cold again here - it's 8 degrees with a high expected of 18.

Jan 14, 10:50am Top

I read Real Friends yesterday and really liked it - thanks for the review up there and the nudge!

Jan 14, 6:08pm Top

>79 leahbird: Oh, I know! That book immediately jumped to mind, and all the other as-yet-unwritten books that she could have narrated so excellently.

>80 rretzler: We didn’t get much more than that, maybe 4 inches. The plows have just cleared off my street, so naturally we are supposed to get another 1-3 inches tomorrow, just in time to make the evening commute disgusting.

>81 scaifea: Glad you liked it!

So, I didn’t get quite as much reading done as I had hoped, though I might finish another book this evening. However, I did a lot of pleasant things, including napping, finally taking down and putting away any remaining Christmas decorations, and cooking meals to provide delicious leftovers for the week. Right now there’s a pot of turkey noodle soup simmering on the stove. Sophie has gotten terribly spoiled, and is not going to understand why I have to go back to work tomorrow!

Jan 15, 1:48pm Top

>82 foggidawn: I hear you. I was home sick for most of last week and Smee is going to be so upset that I'm back at work and he gets far fewer snuggles.

Glad to hear you had a productive weekend. Hope your Monday treats you well!

Jan 15, 2:47pm Top

>83 MickyFine: Glad you are feeling better! My Monday is okay, except that it is snowing steadily and the drive home may be less than delightful. But at least it's not a very long drive.

Jan 16, 9:01am Top

(8 books read)

The Takedown by Corrie Wang -- Kyla Cheng has a pretty good life: she's pretty, popular, and smart. All that is eclipsed, however, when a video is posted of her having sex with a teacher. The video is a fake, but nobody believes that -- even in the unspecified near-future time of the book's setting, the tech doesn't quite exist to make such a seamless fake. The only way for Kyla to get her life back is to find her hater and get the video taken down.

This techie mystery has good pacing, interesting characters, and a solid plot. Some readers may be put off by the invented future slang/text speak, but fans of realistic YA should take a look at this one.

Jan 16, 1:12pm Top

>84 foggidawn: I'm at a level of plague where I'm allowed to be in public but not quite better. Sigh. Hope your snowy drive went ok.

Jan 16, 10:45pm Top

>86 MickyFine: Oh, boo: sick but not sick enough to stay home is no fun. Hope you are completely better soon. My snowy drive was tolerable, and now the roads are clear and it’s not supposed to snow again any time this week.

Edited: Jan 17, 11:38am Top

(9 books read)

A Solitary Blue by Cynthia Voigt — When Jeff is very young, his mother leaves. She explains that she is going to help the environment, and animals, and orphans... Jeff understands, kind of. And he commences living a very cautious life with his history professor father, in order to not lose the only parent he has left. When his mother sends for him a few years later, he’s thrilled to visit her in Charleston, but he eventually learns that his mother is neither truthful nor reliable. When he eventually has to choose between his parents, what will Jeff decide?

I’ve read this book many times, and I still stayed up late to finish it. Really, that’s all I need to say, right?

Jan 17, 7:40am Top

>88 foggidawn: So good. So. GOOD. I still don't think I've read the entire series, though - I need to check up on that, because they've all been wonderful so far.

Jan 17, 11:39am Top

>89 scaifea: When I first read them (as a child/teen), I was less impressed with the last three than I was with the first four, but I'm thinking this time I will reread all of them and see what I think now.

Jan 17, 2:38pm Top

>67 foggidawn: I am so sorry for the sadness of a person passing so very young. I'm glad you got to meet her.

Hugs to you!

Jan 17, 3:03pm Top

>87 foggidawn: Yup. Most of this particular bug has left me sick but not sick enough to be at home. However, for the last few days I've been going to sleep at 9:30 because I'm so tired. I'm feeling closer to better today so we'll see what my energy levels are like at the end of the day.

>88 foggidawn: That is quite the pitch but I'm going to sidestep that BB. For now.

Jan 17, 5:19pm Top

>88 foggidawn: I read quite a few of Voigt's novels back in the early 1990s, but I missed that one, I think. I'll see if I can track it down.

Jan 17, 6:11pm Top

>88 foggidawn: I didn't read the Tillerman books in my teens, but later in life, and loved them all.
Last year I read the whole series again, still loved them :-)

Jan 18, 9:28am Top

>91 Whisper1: Thanks.

>92 MickyFine: Ugggh. Hope the extra sleep is speeding up your healing process.

>93 thornton37814: It's worth finding -- and stands on its own just fine, so no need to reread the others (unless you want to!).

>94 FAMeulstee: That's good to know. I suspect that I will appreciate the later books in the series more now than I did when I first read them.

Jan 19, 4:47am Top

Found and starred your thread.

>88 foggidawn: Cynthia Voigt is such a good writer. I need to look out for that one though.

Jan 20, 7:03pm Top

>96 sirfurboy: Glad to see you here! Yes, Voigt is an excellent writer, and her books were some of what I’d consider formative works for me.

Edited: Jan 22, 10:05am Top

(10 books read)

Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt — Abandoned by their mother, the Tillerman children make their way along the eastern seaboard, seeking a home where they can remain together as a family.

The fleeting urge to reread A Solitary Blue has become a full-fledged series reread. This is the real starting point for those new to the series, though many of the other books can be read as stand-alones. Highly recommended.

Edited: Jan 22, 10:05am Top

(11 books read)

Dicey’s Song by Cynthia Voigt — The Tillerman children have finally found a home with their prickly, irascible grandmother — but what will become of them in their new home? Will Sammy still get in fights? Can Maybeth keep up at school? Will James find both friendship and intellectual stimulation? And what of Dicey, who held the family together through their difficult summer journey? Who will she be, now that she can have a little space in which to be herself?

Continuing to blast through the series. Not sure what else needs to be said, other than, “Good book. Read it.” (After reading Homecoming, of course — this is not one of the books in the series that stands completely alone.)

Jan 20, 7:27pm Top

Jan 21, 10:52am Top

>99 foggidawn: I actually stumbled into the series at this point and still loved the book and wasn't terribly lost. So it wouldn't be a tragedy to start here (but of course in order is always best).

Jan 21, 9:21pm Top

>100 thornton37814: Have you read the others in the series? Some of them I like just as much, or more.

>101 scaifea: Yes, I think she did a good job of making each book stand alone — but there’s definitely some important background in the first book.

Edited: Jan 22, 10:07am Top

(12 books read)

Come a Stranger by Cynthia Voigt — Mina has always loved to dance, so she’s thrilled to get a scholarship to a summer ballet camp. That first summer is everything she dreamed it would be (even if she is the only minority student), but when she goes back for the second year, things have changed. The camp director tells Mina that she no longer has the right build for ballet — but Mina has to wonder if perhaps she doesn’t have the right skin color, either.

It’s so hard for me to pick a favorite book in this series. Sometimes it’s this book. The issues of race addressed here seem particularly timely in the current climate.

Jan 22, 4:08pm Top

(13 books read)

Bolivar by Sean Rubin -- In New York City, everybody is too busy to notice that you are a dinosaur. That's how Bolivar, the last dinosaur, has lived there for so many years. His next-door neighbor Sybil keeps trying to tell people about Bolivar, but they just think she has a very active imagination. And then, one day, Bolivar gets noticed, despite his best efforts to blend in...

This book is an odd hybrid of picture book and graphic novel. The illustrations are charming, the story is whimsical, but I just didn't connect with it for some reason. Perhaps it's my natural resistance to New York-centric stories (I have a theory that so many of these get published because most of publishing is located in New York). This one felt kind of like a retread of other stories of strange creatures in the big city, but if this sort of story appeals to you, by all means, give it a try -- you may like it more than I did.

Jan 22, 4:16pm Top

Congratulations on reading 13 books thus far!

Jan 22, 4:17pm Top

>105 Whisper1: Thanks! My reading totals have been creeping downward, year by year, but I'm hoping to reverse that.

Jan 23, 1:07pm Top

>67 foggidawn: I thought of you when I heard this news. So sad.

>88 foggidawn: Oh, I love this book so much. It is one of my all-time favorites.

Jan 23, 6:38pm Top

>107 lycomayflower: It’s one of my favorites, too.

I’m not sure if it’s the weather or what, but I’m in such a rereading mood right now. Every time I run across a mention of a favorite book or series, I start craving a reread! Besides the Tillerman Cycle, lately I’ve wanted to reread Harry Potter, Temeraire, and The Penderwicks. Browsing through my bookshelves in this frame of mind might be dangerous!

Jan 23, 8:54pm Top

I don't think I realized Dicey's Song was part of a series when I read it.

Jan 23, 10:30pm Top

Hi foggi!

>67 foggidawn: I'm so sad to hear of her passing. How awful.

>57 foggidawn: I've been trying to read Real Friends but it is always checked out!

I've read a few by Cynthia Voigt (Mister Max) but I've never read the ones you've reviewed here - more for the list!

Jan 23, 10:53pm Top

>108 foggidawn: After two years with very little rereading, comparatively speaking, I also am rereading with a vengeance!

Jan 24, 8:46am Top

>110 AMQS: Whereas I haven't read the Mister Max books, or much of her more recent stuff (though I did read Young Fredle, which was pretty good.

>111 ronincats: I didn't do a whole lot of rereading last year -- only ten books out of the 150+ I read. I'm betting I will do a lot more rereading this year!

Jan 24, 10:22am Top

>108 foggidawn: it's catching, I've reread four books already this year!

Jan 24, 10:51am Top

>113 fuzzi: There's definitely something to that notion!

Edited: Jan 25, 6:26pm Top

Foggi! Found ya! Definitely can't miss out on your thread since you're one of my resident YA expert. Too many BBs that I can't resist. :)

Such a good idea to go through and find my oldest book in my TBR mountain and dust it off the shelf. I'm afraid to look. Seriously.

Jan 25, 9:00pm Top

>115 jolerie: Yes, those old TBRs can be daunting! Glad to have you back around; I’ll work on those BBs ASAP!

Edited: Jan 26, 10:42am Top

(14 books read)

The Ladies of Ivy Cottage by Julie Klassen — Second in a series, so I’ll skip the summary. This series continues to meander pleasantly along, and fans of inspirational historical romance would do well to pick it up.

Jan 25, 9:30pm Top

I had 18 rereads last year; I've already read 11 this month.

Edited: Jan 25, 9:37pm Top

>118 ronincats: Wow! That’s a considerable difference. I’ve only reread four books so far, but that’s still nearly half of last year’s total rereads for me.

Edited: Jan 29, 9:28am Top

(15 books read)

The Runner by Cynthia Voigt — Bullet Tillerman runs, not to win races, but because running is what he’s made for. He goes his own way, but occasionally something crops up in life that makes him stop and think. One of these occasions is when the track coach asks him to mentor another cross country runner, a black man named Tamer Shipp. What will it take for Bullet to move past his own prejudice?

Ah, I remember why I didn’t like this book as much as I like the other books in the series. For one thing, Bullet is so angry all the time that reading is a tense, unhappy experience. Also, and this may constitute a spoiler, but only in the vaguest sense, something bad happens to a dog.

I don’t want to be too critical, because this book has all of the earmarks of good writing present in Voigt’s other books: Bullet’s characterization is terrific, his change over the course of the novel believable and hard-won. The dialogue is smart and snappy, and there’s no shortage of wit in the writing. It also fills in some blanks from other books in the series, which is nice. But I don’t think I’ll ever read it again.

Edited: Jan 28, 2:08am Top

>72 foggidawn: So maybe this series is one I should look into. I'll keep it on my radar.

>104 foggidawn: I lived in Manhattan for a couple of years; I can see it would be easy for a dinosaur to blend in, since it's so cosmopolitan. The quirkiness of it appeals to me ;0) I'll read it if I come across it.

Edited: Jan 28, 3:54pm Top

>120 foggidawn: Funnt how taste can differ, The Runner and A Solitary Blue are my favorites :-)
Although I can understand what bothers you in this book.

Jan 29, 9:31am Top

>121 humouress: I certainly enjoyed the series. Also, there's a movie coming out, based on the first book.

>122 FAMeulstee: That is funny, since A Solitary Blue is one of my favorites, but not The Runner.

Edited: Jan 30, 12:14pm Top

(16 books read)

Spinning by Tillie Walden — A graphic memoir exploring the author’s teen years in the competitive world of ice skating, where she feels increasingly out of place.

I’ll admit it: though I enjoy watching figure skating in the Winter Olympics, I don’t give it much thought during the off years. I know very little of synchronized skating, and only the tiniest bit more about figure skating. So, reading this was an interesting glimpse into another world. Walden does a good job of conveying her experiences to the layman.

On the other hand, I found the narrative disjointed in places, and I was left with questions that never really got answered. Some of those may be because this is a memoir, and the author herself didn’t know the answers (why did her parents not come to her competitions? Why did she and her mother not get along?), but sometimes an issue was brought up and never resolved, or seemed to be resolved outside of the story somehow. (After the near miss with the car crash, she said she couldn’t jump any more — but then she goes on to skate for years after that? So, did she work through it? Or what? Also, after Rae’s mother finds their emails, she says it would be years before she saw Rae again — but she never sees her again in this memoir. I kept expecting that to happen because of the way it was worded.)

Those quibbles aside, the artwork is great and the emotion heartfelt. I’d recommend this if it sounds intriguing to you.

Jan 30, 1:13am Top

>104 foggidawn: I understand completely what you mean about NYC stories. My sister-in-law is an elementary teacher and lives in NYC with her family. Each year for Christmas when my boys were little she would give us yet another picture book based in NYC - we have quite a collection of them. While many of them were amusing or charming, my boys really never got the context and some of them felt a little forced. The pickle running away from the deli was especially strange - I wish I could remember what it was called.

Jan 30, 9:02am Top

>125 rretzler: Yeah, there are some really good NYC stories, but I'm pretty choosy about which ones I buy for my library.

Jan 30, 12:19pm Top

>124 foggidawn: I used to love watching figure skating back in the 90s but I haven't really kept up with it in well over a decade.

Jan 30, 12:54pm Top

I cannot stand anything that involves spinning..even those tire swings that are found in playgrounds. Used to hate it as a child because I would get so dizzy and sick. That whole find a spot to focus....never worked for me!

Jan 30, 2:00pm Top

>127 MickyFine: I've never really kept up with it, myself.

>128 jolerie: Those never bothered me as a child -- can't say I've tried them lately, though!

Edited: Jan 30, 8:12pm Top

>125 rretzler: I had to jump in- the pickle book is called Stop That Pickle! by Peter Armour. Unless it's a different book about a pickle running away from a deli (but that seemed unlikely :-) ). It's actually a favorite of mine, although I've never been to NYC. Every year we read it in class and then do our own gingerbread/stop that (usually snowman) story together.

Edited: Jan 31, 6:40am Top

Hi foggi! You're in Ohio, right? I was in Ohio over the New Year and thought about contacting you, but that snowstorm was not doing me any favors. Chances are I'll be back in Dayton next year, if you're close to there. :) Maybe by then I'll be able to convince Stephen to another meetup.

Jan 31, 7:10am Top

>130 jennyifer24: There’s always a demand for Gingerbread Man readalikes, that’s for sure.

>131 The_Hibernator: I’m not particularly close to Dayton, but could make it there for a meetup. I often travel around the holidays, though.

Jan 31, 7:20am Top

Jan 31, 4:33pm Top

Good luck on your 2018 reading resolutions. I haven't been online much in the last seven weeks, but I did see where Katherine Kellgren had passed away and I was shocked and very saddened by the news. How cool that you got to meet her!

Jan 31, 9:15pm Top

>133 rretzler: Mystery solved!

>134 aktakukac: Thanks! I’m making slow progress with my reading resolution: I started one of the books from my classics shelf, but will not finish it this month (aka tonight). Soon, though!

Edited: Feb 1, 9:25am Top

(17 books read)

Sons From Afar by Cynthia Voigt — James and Sammy Tillerman couldn’t be more different: brainy James struggles to make friends and tends to overthink things, while athletic Sammy enjoys wide popularity but can be kind of thoughtless. One thing they do have in common is Francis Verriker, the father who abandoned their family before Sammy was even born. Sammy says the only reason he’d want to meet Francis would be to punch him in the face, but James has questions about why he is the way he is, and he wonders if meeting his father would give him some answers. He pulls unwilling Sammy into the quest, and when James’ interest flags, Sammy keeps the search on track. But can two teenagers with limited resources find a man who obviously doesn’t want to be found?

While this isn’t going to take a place among my favorites, it’s a solid entry in the series, recommended if you’ve gotten this far. The character development is top notch.

Edited: Feb 7, 1:24pm Top

(18 books read)

Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder — Once a year, the boat comes to the island, bringing one orphan (the youngest) and taking one (the oldest) away. When Deen’s turn comes to leave, Jinny hates losing her best friend — but she hates even more the idea that next year, it will be her turn. As the time passes, she wonders: does she really have to go?

I enjoyed this book, but I’m left with a lot of questions. Questions about what happens after the events of the book, and what happened before the events of the book. Questions about the island, its magic, and its connection to our world. I feel like there could be another book about the island and these characters, but I also suspect that there won’t be another book.

If you like children’s books with some magic, ones that make you think, I recommend this one. Just don’t expect it to answer all of your questions!

Feb 3, 2:07am Top

>137 foggidawn: Oooh the premise sounds very interesting but the fact that it doesn't answer anything might bother me too much. I want ALL the answers. None of this use our own imagination rubbish. ;)

Edited: Feb 4, 2:42am Top

>138 jolerie: I agree. I got interested and then I thought, maybe not.

>137 foggidawn: Have you read Eva Ibbotson's books? This looks like it might be along those lines.

ETA touchstone

Edited: Feb 3, 12:56pm Top

>138 jolerie: Yeah, I think a lot of people go into it for that reason, with that result. The ratings for it are surprisingly low on LT, though higher on Goodreads.

>139 humouress: I really like Ibbotson, though I prefer her romances (particularly A Countess Below Stairs) to her fantasies, which pale in comparison to Diana Wynne Jones’ books. This didn’t feel a lot like that to me, though there are some similarities. This had a lot of Jerry Spinelli’s Hokey Pokey to it, with a dash of Peter Pan.

Edited: Feb 4, 11:29am Top

>137 foggidawn: I remember reading somewhere that the author did NOT plan a sequel. I was left with a lot of questions also. I steer kids to the book who might want to read The Hunger Games, which is too old for my library. I was underwhelmed, and just really didn't like Jinny.

>139 humouress:, >140 foggidawn: Eva Ibbotson is a special favorite of ours!

Feb 4, 8:42am Top

>141 AMQS: I hadn’t read that, but from the tone of the book I kind of guessed that there wouldn’t be a sequel.

Feb 4, 9:13pm Top

I need to pick your brain Foggi (and anyone else who wants to chime in)! A friend's son is 8 but reading at an advanced level, AR 4.0-5.0. They are having a hard time finding books suitable for both his reading level and his emotional development. He is prone to nightmares and doesn't identify with a lot of middle school plots. He likes Magic Treehouse but they are below his reading level. He's very much into Star Wars and DC/Marvel superheroes.

His mom is trying to find 7 books for him to read over the next 9 weeks for school and they are coming up pretty blank.

Edited: Feb 4, 9:21pm Top

>143 leahbird: what is AR 4.0-5.0, grade levels?

How about some classics?

Narnia books by CS Lewis
Call of the Wild by Jack London
The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
The Wind in the Willows

Or something more contemporary?
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

Feb 4, 9:38pm Top

>144 fuzzi: I believe 4.0-5.0 is 4th-5th grade? All these levels confuse the crap out of me. He's in 2nd.

Feb 4, 10:52pm Top

>143 leahbird: I’ll see what I can come up with! List below.

>144 fuzzi: and >145 leahbird: Yes, the AR leveling system corresponds to grade level, theoretically. I’m not a fan of any leveling system, but their numbering, at least, makes sense to me. Many of the titles in Fuzzi’s list are actually above the level Leah is looking for, but since he’ll most likely continue to read above grade level, those suggestions will be useful in a year or two!

Here are some ideas:

The World According to Humphrey by Betty G. Birney (AR 4.2)
The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes (AR 4.2)
Waylon! One Awesome Thing by Sara Pennypacker (AR 4.6)
The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey (AR 4.3)
Claude at the Circus by Alex T. Smith (AR 4.2)
Teddy & Co. by Cynthia Voigt (AR 4.5)
Stick Dog by Tom Watson (AR 4.8)

There are some Star Wars books that fall in that range, though I’m betting they’ve already found those (Star Wars Forces of Destiny Daring Adventures, for instance).

Also, many of the Captain Awesome books by Stan Kirby are 4.0 - 5.0, though some are in the high 3’s. It sounds like they would be right up his alley, so I thought I’d mention them.

Feb 5, 7:42am Top

>143 leahbird: Also, how about the Henry Huggins books by Beverly Cleary? Charlie loves them still and was reading them last year in 2nd grade (and his reading level is pretty advanced, too). The Year of Billy Miller is a great suggesting, by the way. And I just finished Wishtree yesterday, which I think would be perfect, too.

Feb 5, 10:51am Top

>143 leahbird: As an adult who reads and enjoys ya and picture books (and is also a 2nd grade teacher), reading "easy" books isn't always a bad thing! Keeping a love of reading is also important. I wouldn't give up on Magic Tree House if he likes them. Maybe find nf books that pair with the topics? Nonfiction is usually a little tougher than fiction, even if they're the same level. My kiddos are very much into biographies lately, so that could be an option. Some just read about Alexander Graham Bell- even though the level was below their reading level, learning about telegraphs and telephones and sound made it challenging and interesting. Maybe a bio of a movie director or author?

http://www.whowasbookseries.com/who-was/ (I've only read Dr. Seuss and Disney of this series, so can't vouch for all of them, but there are lots of them to choose from- I read them with a 4th grader)

Does it have to be books- could he read magazines or comics?

I would also throw Little House in the Big Woods and Farmer Boy out there. I'm not sure what their reading levels are, but I use Little House as a read aloud every year and it's pretty appealing to boys and girls in my class.

Feb 5, 2:03pm Top

Dropping off a star here! I think we have similar taste in YA/children's. I enjoyed Landscape with Invisible Hand when I read it last year, although I think my overall feeling after finishing was "unsettled." And agree with your take on Orphan Island -- I just needed a LITTLE more background. Too much was unexplained.

Feb 5, 3:38pm Top

>143 leahbird: I’m guessing he might not like the Skulduggery Pleasant books that my just-turned-9 year old is burning through right now? Percy Jackson books? (Shh, don’t tell Amber.) He likes David Walliams and Tashi books, but I don’t know how accessible those are in the US. Horrible Henry?

I know there are a range of reading ages in that list, but he’ll pick up a variety of things to read.

Edited: Feb 5, 6:19pm Top

>143 leahbird: I second The Year of Billy Miller, the Humphrey books and the Beverly Cleary books. Also, try:
the Spiderwick Chronicles (they're like Harry Potter Light for younger readers),
Flora & Ulysses,
Judy Moody and Stink books,
S.M.A.R.T.S. books (Science, Maker, and Real Technology Students - S.M.A.R.T.S. and the Poison Plates is an example),
Hardy Boys
The Terrible Two
Roald Dahl books
Ranger in Time

Feb 5, 9:45pm Top

>147 scaifea: Good thoughts! I still need to get around to reading Wishtree.

>148 jennyifer24: I definitely agree! And the “Who Was” books are super popular in my library.

>149 curioussquared: Thanks for visiting! I’ll have to drop by your thread soon.

>150 humouress: I must admit that I also enjoyed the Percy Jackson books.

>151 AMQS: Lots of good suggestions there!

Edited: Feb 15, 1:19pm Top

(19 books read)

Princess Cora and the Crocodile by Laura Amy Schlitz — Poor Princess Cora’s life is a strictly regimented round of baths and lessons, until the day her fairy godmother sends an unruly crocodile to shake things up!

This early chapter book is a pleasant, gently funny read. Recommended to anyone who likes reading about princesses — or crocodiles!

Edited: Feb 5, 11:12pm Top

Thanks so much Foggi and everyone else! I had recommended a bunch from my own middle grade reading (read as an adult) but what draws me as a grown up is not always of interest to actual children. 😉 My friend will be thrilled to have a longer list to check out!

He's definitely not giving up Magic Treehouse for his own pleasure but for his AR challenges in school they have to keep progressing up the levels and not stick in one level once they've proven mastery which is where it starts to get tricky.

Feb 6, 12:14am Top

Hope he finds something he loves. I can't stand AR.

Feb 6, 11:44am Top

>154 leahbird: Great! Hope he likes some of our suggestions.

>155 AMQS: I know what you mean. When it's used as a limiting factor, that really bothers me.

Feb 6, 12:20pm Top

Oh, I agree with the Little House books, and Beverly Cleary. I didn't discover the wonders of her books until my own children were reading them.

Edited: Feb 6, 3:20pm Top

>143 leahbird: When my older son was in 2nd/3rd grade, he was also reading at a higher reading level and not interested at all in the books that a typical 2nd/3rd grader would read. He also preferred to read humor at that time and many books at that level were not very funny. (Note - some of these books contain fart jokes and low-brow humor, but suitable for an elementary school boy.) We had a very difficult time getting him to read, so when he found something he liked, I took note of the author, and we got more of that particular author's books. Unfortunately, I didn't write down the reading level of the particular authors - so some are probably more geared toward younger children and some toward older. Here is the list of the authors:

Andrew Clements
Andy Griffiths
Brian Selznick
Cressida Cowell
Dan Gutman
Dav Pilkey
Dr. Cuthbert Soup
Francesca Simon
Georgia Byng
Gordon Korman
Graham Salisbury
Greg Trine
H.N. Kowitt
Jacqueline Davis
Jeff Brown
Jeff Kinney
Lenore Look
Lincoln Pierce
Louis Sachar
Megan McDonald
Tom Angelberger
Trenton Lee Stewart
Trudi Trueit
Wendelin Van Draanen

Also, you might take a look at this list Mensa for Kids Excellence in Reading Program Grades 4-6 which can also be found at the Mensa for Kids Excellence in Reading Program along with lists for K-3, 7-8.

ETA He loved The Genius Files series by Dan Gutman

Feb 6, 3:42pm Top

When I was in 2nd-3rd grade I was reading above grade level too HOWEVER I refused to read anything but the same 20 Nancy Drew novels over and over again. So I'm no help here.

Feb 6, 4:59pm Top

>157 fuzzi: I have fond memories of both of those.

>158 rretzler: How handy, that you kept the list!

>159 norabelle414: I never really got into Nancy Drew, but I read a whole lot of similar series books -- a whole lot.

Feb 6, 5:04pm Top

>159 norabelle414: I hear you, friend. Nancy Drew, Babysitter's Club, and the Saddle Club were my reading jam around that age.

Feb 6, 9:08pm Top

>161 MickyFine: Oh yes; I didn’t have access to most of those, but Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Three Investigators.

But what about classics? My parents got me ones like Huck Finn, The Man in the Iron Mask, Robin Hood, The Last Mohican. I know I read those (the full versions, not abridged or condensed-for-children books) before I was ten and we moved countries.

Feb 6, 10:17pm Top

>161 MickyFine: Oh, yeah. Though I never got into horse books, really.

>162 humouress: I know I read some classics at a young age (Call of the Wild, Little Women) — but of course at that age I didn’t distinguish between Great Literature and the series books I consumed by the handful, like candy.

Feb 6, 10:21pm Top

>163 foggidawn: Oh absolutely. Same here. I was just adding books to leahbird’s list.

Edited: Feb 7, 1:23pm Top

(20 books read)

The Universe Is Expanding and So Am I by Carolyn Mackler — Virginia has always been curvy, and her feelings about her body have long been complicated. Her family’s attitudes toward her weight haven’t helped. She was thrilled to find a boyfriend (see The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things), but now she’s not sure she even likes the guy all that much. If she breaks up with him, will she ever be part of a couple again? Then, family drama breaks out, not to mention friend drama, summer employment, and the dreaded driving test.

I read The Earth, My Butt... back in library school (how is that even 10+ years ago already?), and this book picks up right where that one left off. I’d be interested to see how that works when reading the two books together, since this one name-checks stuff like Minecraft and Hamilton, placing it pretty definitely in the present. On the other hand, I have only the vaguest memories of the earlier book and had no problem following this one, so it works just fine as a stand-alone. I read this all in one evening, so obviously I liked it a lot. Great characters, interesting conflicts, good pacing — if realistic YA is your thing, this one’s worth reading. (I read an advance copy; this book comes out May 29th.)

Feb 8, 1:28pm Top

(21 books read)

Snowspelled by Stephanie Burgis -- In a Regency-like setting, but with magic, Cassandra makes a dangerous promise to a magical being, and finds herself at the center of a mystery -- all while trying to avoid her charming ex-fiance.

This novella was a most pleasant diversion, part mystery and part romance, but mostly fantasy. I liked the setting, and will certainly read the next volume in the series when it is available.

Feb 8, 5:26pm Top

>165 foggidawn: I also read The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things around when it came out way too long ago and remember liking it but not much else. I might have to check this one out!

Feb 8, 7:06pm Top

>167 curioussquared: Yeah, that’s about how much of it I remembered! A few details came back as I read the new book.

Edited: Feb 12, 9:12am Top

(22 books read)

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde — A handsome young man wishes that he could remain as he is in his portrait, and that the portrait could age instead. He gets his wish, and the results are horrific.

This classic is full of wit and philosophy. Though I had trouble getting into it, once I did I was entirely absorbed in the story. I’m glad I finally got around to reading it.

This is the first book I've completed for my bookish resolution to read more classics -- I've updated my post at the top of this thread to reflect that I've finished this one.

Feb 11, 10:54pm Top

>166 foggidawn: That was a fun one, wasn't it?

Feb 12, 9:08am Top

>170 ronincats: Yes! Thanks for the recommendation. :-)

Feb 12, 2:57pm Top

>169 foggidawn: One of the few classics I really enjoyed. :D

Feb 12, 4:48pm Top

>169 foggidawn: Oscar Wilde is such a delight. Not as full of wit as his plays (as I'm sure you're aware) but a really fascinating read nonetheless.

Feb 12, 4:58pm Top

>172 jolerie: It's a good one!

>173 MickyFine: Oh, I love the plays more, but I'm glad I finally read this one.

Edited: Feb 13, 10:56am Top

(23 books read)

Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks by Annie Spence — A snarky librarian addresses letters to books she’s known and loved, hated, etc. I’ve been hearing about this one everywhere, so I picked it up and zipped through it in an evening. What they said about it is true: it’s fun, funny, and will make your reading list explode. It’s obvious to me that Spence and I have different taste in books, but I get the feeling that we could have some really interesting conversations about the spots where our reading overlaps. More than making me want to read at least some of the books referenced, this made me want to browse my personal shelves and have some conversations with my own old favorites.

Feb 12, 11:01pm Top

>175 foggidawn: I've heard great things too! Does it have spoilers? I feel like I'd have to read all the other books before I could read that one, lol. Love the idea of interacting with important books in that way though!

Feb 13, 12:08am Top

>169 foggidawn: Glad you liked that one - I really like Wilde but he is not for everyone.

>175 foggidawn: Ooh, I've been hearing about that one too. BB

Feb 13, 10:58am Top

>176 jennyifer24: I think she pretty much avoids spoilers -- I haven't read several of the books she references, but I don't feel that her remarks spoiled them for me.

>177 rretzler: I've long been a fan of Wilde's plays, so I was pretty confident that I would like the book.

Feb 13, 11:41am Top


The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton -- In a world where all people are born gray and colorless, the few who have the magical ability to enhance beauty have the potential for plenty of political power, as well. Camellia is one of these Belles, and she is ambitious, but when she arrives at the capitol, she finds that everything is not as it seems.

I liked the premise, but I just couldn't get into this story. It's incredibly slow-moving, I didn't empathize with the main character, and the writing is weird and flowery and all the metaphors are about food. I made it about 150 pages in, and not much has happened yet -- Camellia was sent one place, then switched with another Belle, and nobody will tell her why or what happened (this is a pet peeve of mine, when a character is unnecessarily and intentionally kept in the dark about something that's otherwise common knowledge, just to build suspense). I feel like I've devoted so much time to reading this far that I really ought to continue, but on the other hand, I've finished my last four reads basically avoiding this one, so I think it's time to let it go. I don't usually comment on books I DNF, but I got far enough in this one that I felt like I had a couple things to say about it. Many other reviewers loved it, though some felt that certain elements were problematic. If you're intrigued, best try it for yourself -- just be advised, it's very slow to start.

Feb 13, 11:47am Top

>169 foggidawn: Dorian Gray is one of those books I was forced to read in high school for AP English and absolutely hated. My mother had to bribe me to finish it, and for years I've had a negative knee-jerk reaction to this and Grapes of Wrath. But I've been seeing Dorian Gray pop up everywhere lately, and your mini review is making me think I should power through the first bits and give it an honest try.

Feb 13, 1:47pm Top

>175 foggidawn: I'm glad that one was a hit with you. Like you, my reading tastes are a bit different from Spence's (despite all her love for it, I still can't see myself picking up The Virgin Suicides) but I still came away with a handful of books for The List.

>176 jennyifer24: She's very good about avoiding spoilers (as most librarians are). :)

>179 foggidawn: I feel your pain when you've made so much progress but just can't make yourself finish. Congrats on letting it go rather than hate reading it.

Feb 13, 2:08pm Top

>179 foggidawn: Another one where the premise sounds so interesting! Sorry it didn't pan out.

Feb 13, 2:29pm Top

>180 Miss_Moneypenny: Hmm . . . have you read anything else by Wilde? Maybe try one of the plays and see how it goes, rather than try to push back into a book with which you have such strong negative associations?

>181 MickyFine: Yeah . . . I'm probably not reading The Virgin Suicides any time soon, either.

>182 jolerie: Ah, well, I guess I can't expect every book to be a winner.

Feb 13, 2:42pm Top

>179 foggidawn: Oh no! It's had so much buzz, and I'm on the (very long) holds list at the library.

Feb 13, 2:58pm Top

>169 foggidawn: I reread Dorian Gray for my IRL book group last year and loved it again. Though, it still doesn't beat The Importance of Being Earnest for me, which is my all-time favorite play.

Feb 13, 3:24pm Top

>184 norabelle414: Maybe it's just me?

>185 curioussquared: I love The Importance of Being Earnest -- it's my favorite Wilde, though my all-time favorite play is always going to be Cyrano de Bergerac.

Feb 13, 7:16pm Top

>180 Miss_Moneypenny: I never read Dorian Gray, but I did finish The Grapes of Wrath. I did not like it, much...but then I've not liked any Steinbeck I've read.

Feb 14, 9:29am Top

>187 fuzzi: I've never read The Grapes of Wrath. I suppose I might, someday, but it's not high on my list of priorities!

Feb 14, 12:45pm Top

>186 foggidawn: I've never gotten around to Cyrano de Bergerac -- maybe this is the year!

Feb 14, 6:56pm Top

Happy Valentine's Day, foggi.

Feb 19, 2:30pm Top

>189 curioussquared: Maybe! It seems like there have been a lot of disappointing spinoffs/retellings, but the original is just excellent.

>190 rretzler: Thanks! Hope yours was happy, too. I mostly ignore Valentine's Day, but any excuse to eat chocolate is welcome.

Feb 19, 2:47pm Top

(24 books read)

Blue Window by Adina Rishe Gewirtz -- Five siblings fall through a portal into a magical world. In searching for a way to get home, they discover that all is not well in this new place. Will they be able to survive and stay together long enough to figure out how to get back home?

I enjoyed this book while reading it -- it's a portal fantasy, and I generally like those. However, I found it one of the darkest children's portal fantasies I have ever read. The world into which the children fall is incredibly bleak and dangerous, and none of the characters they meet are entirely friendly. I also think that the pacing lags a bit, and the halfhearted attempt near the end to drag in the Children of Prophecy trope was unnecessary. However, the concept is sound and the world is interesting enough, if rather depressing. I'd say that this is guardedly recommended to readers who enjoy children's fantasy with a dark streak.

Feb 19, 3:09pm Top

(25 books read)

Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar -- After a car accident, Ruthie spends months in a full-body cast. Though she is surrounded by the love of her Cuban-Jewish immigrant family and a few colorful neighborhood personalities, it's a long and difficult time as she recovers. And, after being in the cast for so long, will she be able to gather up the courage to stand again?

This is a soft, lovely story, loosely based on the author's own experiences as a child. I loved descriptions of Ruthie, her family, and the vibrant and diverse group of friends in 1960s New York City who help make her long convalescence easier to bear. One thing to note: for some reason, my first impression from descriptions and whatnot was that this was a teen book, but it is not. Both content and writing style are firmly middle grade. Recommended for readers who enjoy slice-of-life stories with excellent characters and a recent-historical setting.

Edited: Feb 19, 3:31pm Top


The Glass Town Game by Catherynne M. Valente -- On the day when Charlotte and Emily are to go back to their terrible boarding school, the four Brontë siblings (Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne) are whisked away instead to Glass Town, the country of their own making -- but even their fertile imaginations couldn't come up with some of the wild things that happen to them there!

I'm DNF'ing books all over the place lately, it seems! This is another one where I got a fair ways into it before giving up. To its credit, the writing is great and the fantasy setting fully realized. There's some top-notch wordplay going on, and lots of sly winks to readers who know their Brit Lit. I had two main problems with the book. First of all, it's just. So. Long. I was listening to the audio version, which doesn't help, but I had even felt some trepidation when I saw the hardcover, before I checked the audiobook out. My second problem was that Branwell was written as a nasty little brat, and reading about him was distasteful. Maybe, like Edmund in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, he would have his moment of redemption later in the book -- but for the first half, at least, I felt like he was just there to be hated.

Though written as a children's fantasy, I think this book will find its true audience among Valente's many fans. I just couldn't quite manage to stick with it.

Edited: Feb 20, 9:07am Top

(26 books read)

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson — Stevie has an interest in crime. She hopes to work for the FBI someday. Now, she has been accepted to the prestigious Ellingham Academy. Not only is the school quirky and selective, in a beautiful mountainside location, but it’s the site of a 1930’s murder/kidnapping case — which Stevie is kind of obsessed with. She’s convinced that the wrong man was convicted of the crime, and that, on site, she can solve the case. What she doesn’t expect is to find a crime happening in the present day. It’s a lot harder to solve mysteries, Stevie discovers, when your own emotions are involved...

The first thing you should know about this mystery is that it ends on a cliffhanger. I took off half a star for that, and half a star for the love/hate romance subplot. Other than that, I loved this book. Johnson’s writing is crisp and clever, and since I love boarding school stories and 1930’s mysteries, this was a terrific mashup. Mostly, I just want the next book now, so I can find out if my theories are correct! For instance, I think the solution to Ellingham’s last riddle is a picture. Those often hang on the wall along a staircase, so they’re not on a stair, and the person is there, but not. And I’m wondering if Marsh was the kidnapper, possibly involved in a long con, associated with the anarchists — who also recruited the student couple that Stevie found out about just at the end of the book. I kind of think the bomb on the yacht was Ellingham’s revenge. And I wish that at least one loose end about the present-day mystery had been tied up. I’m going to have to wait to find out. So, my recommendation is that you wait and read this when the entire trilogy is available. Don’t torture yourself like I did!

Feb 20, 8:43am Top

>193 foggidawn: ouch, Book Bullet!

One of my favorite youth books was Dot for Short, about a family living in NYC during the late 1940s or early 1950s. It is eminently suitable for an adult read.

Feb 20, 9:23am Top

>196 fuzzi: Sounds like an interesting read. I'll keep an eye out for it.

Feb 20, 4:09pm Top

>195 foggidawn: I am very fond of Maureen Johnson but I'll take your advice on this one and hold off on reading it until the trilogy is complete. Plenty of books to read in the meantime. ;)

Feb 20, 5:18pm Top

Blue Window sounds interesting! Will look that one up.

Feb 20, 6:44pm Top

>198 MickyFine: Yeah, it’s a good book, but feels unfinished. If she’d have just tied up a few more loose ends, even while leaving the main murder/kidnapping mystery unsolved, I would have been okay with it.

>199 jolerie: It’s an interesting one! If you read it, I’ll be on the lookout for your thoughts.

Edited: Feb 25, 4:29pm Top

(27 books read)

A Heart Revealed by Josi S. Kilpack — Amber Sterlington is all the rage during her first London season, and she expects to take her pick of the eligible bachelors. When she begins losing hair at an alarming rate, everything changes. Sent away from town to live in a rustic Yorkshire cottage, Amber fears that her life as she knew it is over. However, her new circumstances have many things to teach her — and at least one of her suitors has not given up on her.

I’m a bit torn on this one. On one hand, I found it compulsively readable. Kilpack does a good job of balancing Amber’s initially unlikable character with the much pleasanter Thomas (and how unusual it is for the male romantic lead to be a point of view character!). However, I was a little put off by the insta-love (at least on his part), and even after her moral transformation I felt that he deserved better. A certain scene in the garden, near the end of the book, was also off-putting. All in all, though, I think readers looking for clean Regency romances will enjoy this.

(Also, who names a Regency heroine Amber? Really.)

Feb 21, 7:49pm Top

foggi, I've got a question for you on my thread. http://www.librarything.com/topic/285882#6388894

Feb 21, 8:57pm Top

>202 ronincats: I was just over there, answering it!

Feb 23, 12:55pm Top

Exciting book release news: The Penderwicks At Last is coming out May 15th! Somehow I had missed this news until just now. It's the end of the series, which is a bit sad, but on the other hand, Penderwicks!!!

Edited: Feb 25, 4:28pm Top

(28 books read)

Seventeen Against the Dealer by Cynthia Voigt — Dicey Tillerman is 21, and ready to start her own business... or so she thinks. The plan: make enough money on boat storage and repair to cover expenses, and then build dinghies to sell, and eventually larger sailboats. Unfortunately, things begin to go wrong almost immediately...

There’s a lot of stress in this book. In some ways, it’s even more stressful than Homecoming, because Dicey’s work separates her from her family, and they’re all better off when they are working things out together. Voigt does a great job with the characters, of course — Cisco, in particular, is a perfectly balanced mix, charming and offensive by turns. Though the earlier books will always be my favorites, I have a deeper appreciation for this one now than I did as a teen.

It occurs to me to wonder if Cisco is actually Francis Verriker, Dicey’s father. If so, that’s pretty subtle and cleverly done. He has a lot of similarities, including wonderlust and a love for the Pacific islands. Hmmmm.

Feb 24, 2:25pm Top

>205 foggidawn: I never looked at Cisco that way... interesting thought!

Feb 24, 3:11pm Top

>206 FAMeulstee: It never even occurred to me the first time I read it. This time, especially having read The Runner recently, certain things made me wonder if it might be the case.

Feb 24, 3:27pm Top

>208 FAMeulstee: I just reread them all last year, I will probably do again in a couple of years and will keep this in mind. He isn't found in Sons From Afar, so I would have expected hints in that one...

Feb 25, 4:27pm Top

>208 FAMeulstee: I'll be interested to hear what you think when you reread them.

Feb 25, 5:25pm Top

So excited about The Penderwicks! Not surprised that it is the last, but sorry nonetheless.

Feb 26, 9:00am Top

>210 AMQS: Yes, I had heard that there would only be one more. I feel the same: excited/sorry. I'm planning to do a quick series reread before it comes out.

Edited: Feb 26, 10:38am Top

(29 books read)

The Garden of Wisdom: Earth Tales from the Middle East, edited by Michael J. Caduto -- reviewing elsewhere; just including it in my count here.

Feb 26, 2:15pm Top

I read the first Penderwicks and loved it. Thanks for the reminder to check out the rest!

Feb 28, 3:05pm Top

>213 curioussquared: You're in for a treat!

Edited: Mar 2, 12:06pm Top

(30 books read)

Winterhouse by Ben Guterson — When Elizabeth’s guardians send her away to a strange hotel for Christmas vacation, she expects to spend a miserable holiday there. Instead, she finds a new friend and a fascinating mystery . . . and maybe even a hint of magic, and a little bit of danger.

This is a solid entry in the genre of middle-grade puzzle novels, perfect for young readers who love anagrams and secret codes. There were enough clues to figure out the solution to one big riddle before the main character does, which is always gratifying. I did think that one particular plot element relied too heavily on coincidence, but all in all, a satisfying read. This book name-checks everything from The Westing Game to Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, which makes it seem a little self-conscious at times, but readers familiar with those works will appreciate the wink and nudge. Recommended to those who enjoy this sort of book.

Edited: Mar 5, 8:49am Top

(31 books read)

At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon — A 60-year-old Episcopal priest in a small town acquires a stray dog, takes in a neglected boy, and finds romance with a new neighbor.

When it’s time for a comfort read, this series does the trick.

Mar 5, 4:00pm Top

Yay for comfort reads!

Mar 5, 7:42pm Top

>217 MickyFine: Indeed. It’s been a gloomy, anxious month, and I’m ready for some spring sunshine. These books seem like good spring reading, to me.

Edited: Mar 6, 10:15am Top

(32 books read)

Africa is My Home: A Child of the Amistad by Monica Edinger — As a young girl, Magulu (later known as Sarah Margru Kinson) is sold into slavery and sent from her home in West Africa (the area that is now the country of Sierra Leone) to Cuba, and from there to America on board the Amistad with about 50 others, including three other children. When the enslaved men revolt and take over the ship, they hope to return to Africa, but the surviving sailors secretly sail back towards the American coast at night, resulting in a zigzagging journey up the east coast, until the ship is captured by the U.S. Navy just off of Long Island. Because the U.S. had by then outlawed the international slave trade, and because the mutiny occurred outside of American waters, the Africans from the Amistad find themselves caught up in a complicated legal battle. Will Magulu ever be able to return to her homeland?

This was a short but very interesting book. I knew little about the Amistad before reading it, and it’s inspired me to do a little additional reading about the events described in the book. Edinger stays close to the facts, which I appreciate, while still producing a satisfying read.

Mar 5, 8:51pm Top

>216 foggidawn: I had that book kicking around my shelves for years, never read it.

I'll keep it in mind if I see a copy for free/cheap.

Mar 6, 10:17am Top

>220 fuzzi: The series is one of my favorites, particularly the first three or four books.

Mar 8, 9:00am Top

(33 books read)

A Light in the Window by Jan Karon -- Father Tim's romance with his next-door neighbor continues, but after 60 years as a bachelor, is he ready to make a commitment?

This may be my favorite book of the series. I love the sweet unfolding romance which is the main focus of this book.

Mar 8, 2:59pm Top

>195 foggidawn: Oooh, that sounds good!

>216 foggidawn: >222 foggidawn: Hmmm, never heard of this series. I'll have to look into it too.

Mar 8, 5:26pm Top

>216 foggidawn:, >222 foggidawn: The Mitford books are some of my absolute favorites, and the ultimate comfort reads. I just love Father Tim.

Mar 9, 8:00am Top

I don't know why I've never gotten round to the Mitford books. I think my mom has read some of them and loved them. I really need to.

Mar 9, 8:06am Top

>201 foggidawn: I'm catching up on your thread and am also LOLing at the idea of naming a Regency character Amber. What even?! It reminds me of the beauty pageant movie Drop Dead Gorgeous.

Mar 9, 10:52am Top

>223 rretzler: The Maureen Johnson book was very good, except for the cliffhanger part.

>224 LibraryLover23: Yes, mine too. Especially the first few books in the series.

>225 scaifea: I love them, but I'm not sure if they would be to your taste. It would be worth reading one to find out!

>226 Miss_Moneypenny: I've never seen that movie, but the name was a bit jarring in context!

Mar 9, 6:26pm Top

Someone, probably in this thread, raved about The Penderwicks. I remembered the title, and while I was going over the shelves at the used book store today, I discovered a copy...

Mar 10, 9:02am Top

>228 fuzzi: Nice! Hope you enjoy it!

Edited: Mar 12, 12:13pm Top

(34 books read)

Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman — Tess screwed up, big time. With her future in ruins, her family has given her two choices: stay with her twin sister and brother-in-law and eventually become governess to their children, or enter a convent. Fortunately, as a wise person Tess has yet to meet will say, there are never just two choices. The day before she must make her decision, Tess sets out on the road. As she travels, Tess will find adventure enough even for her restless heart.

I devoured this book in two days. Great plot, great characters, great pacing. I wasn’t sure how I would do with Tess, who isn’t very sympathetic early on, but even when I didn’t like her, I was invested in the story — and she gets some excellent character development as the story progresses.

While I think you will enjoy the book more if you’ve read the Seraphina duology, this book does stand on its own (though the setting is the same, and events of the previous two books are referenced). Either way, I recommend it!

Mar 10, 7:55pm Top

I've read the duology and I'm all ready to read Tess of the Road. Nice review Foggy!

Mar 11, 7:02pm Top

Edited: Mar 12, 12:12pm Top

(35 books read)

Dress Your Family In Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris — A collection of essays by a well-known humorist, mostly about life with his parents and siblings. I hadn’t read any Sedaris before, but I picked this book up for 75 cents in the basement of an antique store last year, and I wanted something completely different after the fantasy novel I just read. I probably won’t read any more of Sedaris; he’s funny, but with an uncomfortable edge of cruelty. It’s probably what makes his humor work for so many, but it’s not to my taste.

Edited: Mar 11, 7:18pm Top

I got to see Rachel Hartman last week in conversation with Tamora Pierce -- she's great in person! I liked Seraphina but didn't love it, and never read the second one, but I put Tess of the Road on hold at the library immediately after the event.

Mar 11, 7:57pm Top

>234 curioussquared: I would have loved to be at that author event — two of my favorites! Sounds like I liked Seraphina more than you did, but you might actually like Tess better, for that reason.

Edited: Mar 12, 12:11pm Top

(36 books read)

The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill — Greta is training to be a blacksmith like her mother, but she discovers a new interest when she rescues a strange creature which she later learns is a tea dragon. These adorable but high-maintenance little beasts produce leaves and flowers that can be brewed into magical tea.

This brief graphic novel is short on plot, but makes up for it with lush illustrations, fascinating and diverse characters, and, of course, tea dragons — the cutest things ever! I want one.

Mar 11, 8:12pm Top

Hi foggi! Re: David Sedaris: I probably won’t read any more of Sedaris; he’s funny, but with an uncomfortable edge of cruelty. It’s probably what makes his humor work for so many, but it’s not to my taste. Yes he does often use that uncomfortable edge of cruelty. I enjoy his work, but in smallish doses. When he's funny there's no one better, but his cruel streak is out it makes for a squirmy read/listen.

Mar 11, 8:59pm Top

>237 AMQS: Yes, part of the problem may have been that I read the book straight through over a couple of days. Spread out more, it might have bothered me less.

Mar 12, 12:13pm Top

I've added cover images to this weekend's book reviews, for those who enjoy such things.

Mar 13, 1:38pm Top

>239 foggidawn: Yay for covers! Also tea dragons are adorable.

Mar 14, 4:59pm Top

>240 MickyFine: Aren't they just? There are all different kinds, and I can't decide which one I would like best.

Mar 14, 11:14pm Top

I'm a fan of Sedaris, but I learned to enjoy him on This American Life on public radio. I think because I was so used to listening to his stories, the books didn't phase me as much as they might have. That being said - I did NOT enjoy Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk so if you do try another Sedaris, stay away from that one, I can guarantee you will not enjoy it.

Edited: Mar 15, 9:24am Top

>242 rretzler: Ouch, I will avoid that one! It has a really low star rating here on LT, too. And it may be that, since you came to his writing through listening, you have a better ear for his tone. What comes across as cruel to me could probably be gentled by the tone of the speaker's voice.

Edited: Mar 19, 8:55am Top

(37 books read)

Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather — In the year 1851, the priest Jean Latour is sent to the new American territory of New Mexico, to re-establish the Roman Catholic Church among the people there. For over 30 years, he works among them, becoming greatly beloved.

This is a lovely, refreshing book. It describes the beauty of the southwestern landscape as well as the events of a lifetime of service. Based on the life of the first bishop of New Mexico, this book made me want to revisit Santa Fe and see the cathedral there again. Recommended.

Edited: Mar 17, 11:06pm Top

>244 foggidawn: I'll have to look out for this one. I really enjoyed Shadows on the Rock last year. It's set in Quebec City, and the setting was also an important part of the story. I find her books very readable.

Mar 18, 8:50pm Top

>245 jennyifer24: I haven’t read that one, but it sounds interesting.

Edited: Mar 19, 8:55am Top

(38 books read)

American Panda by Gloria Chao — It’s Mei’s first semester at MIT, and her parents are still trying to run her life. They want her to study hard, get good grades, get into med school, and marry a Taiwanese doctor (preferably a friend of the family). Problem is, Mei is germaphobic and doesn’t want to be a doctor — and she kind of has a crush on a boy who doesn’t meet her parents’ specifications.

I went into this thinking it would be a lighthearted romantic comedy, but found it more serious and less funny than expected. Mei’s romance does have some cute moments (though I’m a little bothered that she fell in love with practically the first guy she saw), but the story is much less about the romance, and much more about Mei’s relationship with her parents, and whether she can meet their expectations. It’s a good story, just not, you know, frothy. So, recommended — not as a romance, but as an examination of parental expectations and cultural norms.

Edited: Mar 19, 8:53am Top

(39 books read)

Bilgewater by Jane Gardam — Marigold’s father is house master at a boys’ school, so to the boys Marigold is known as Bill’s Daughter, which devolves into the nickname Bilgewater. This book tells of Marigold’s awkward teenage years, of friends and frenemies and crushes and first love.

For the first half or two-thirds of this book, not much happens — and then a great many things happen all at once. It’s hard to explain or summarize, but it has a certain charm. I’d recommend this to fans of Muriel Spark. As for me, I enjoyed it, but probably won’t seek out other books by this author.

Edited: Mar 21, 11:54am Top

(40 books read)

Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman — Kiko longs for a mother’s unconditional love and support: a mother who is interested in her life, encourages her in her art, and believes what she says about that bad thing that happened several years back. Unfortunately, that’s not the kind of mother Kiko has. Just as the situation at home is deteriorating, an old friend walks back into Kiko’s life — one who may serve as a catalyst for change in many ways.

Appropriately, for a book that is so much about artistic expression, the emotion of this book is the best part. Readers who enjoy realistic YA books about people from difficult circumstances growing and finding their place in the world are the perfect audience for this story.

Edited: Mar 27, 11:59am Top

(41 books read)

Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly — When Virgil gets stuck in a well, his friends must rescue him. Of course, it would help if they actually knew that he was missing...

Eh, it was good, but I’m not sure it was Newbery good.

Mar 26, 11:33pm Top

>250 foggidawn: I have that one on hold at the library. I'll let you know what I think!

Mar 27, 9:39am Top

>250 foggidawn: I just commented on your goodreads review, but yeah, I felt the same. Nice story, but my Newbery standards are pretty high...

Edited: Mar 27, 7:15pm Top

>251 curioussquared: I'll be interested to see what you think!

>252 scaifea: Right. I felt the same way about this book as I have about other books by the author (nice, but not my favorite). Since it won the award, I thought maybe she had really broken through to a new level with this one, but . . . nah. The Newbery is supposed to be the best kids’ book of the year, but I liked other books published last year better.

Edited: Mar 28, 10:42am Top

(42 books read)

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi — While showing off for some school friends (well, frenemies), Aru lights a lamp that releases an evil being and sets in motion the end of the world. Fortunately/unfortunately, Aru is one of five reincarnated heroes from Indian mythology. She, along with one of her heroic sisters and a sassy pigeon (don’t ask) must find their weapons and stop the Sleeper before he brings about the end of time. Oh, and they’ve only got nine days.

So, the idea here is that Riordan tackled some mythologies more familiar to Western culture (Graeco-Roman, Egyptian, Norse) in his humorous and fast-paced style, but is now bringing in #ownvoices authors to give similar treatment to myths from other parts of the world. In this case, it worked reasonably well, except that it felt like another author trying to write like Riordan — it felt branded, rather than a unique expression. As such, it also seemed just a little less funny, a little less sharp, than Riordan’s own books. I think kids will enjoy this series, and it’s great to see lesser-known stories sharing Riordan’s considerable spotlight. I’ll probably read on and see what happens to Aru when the other Pandavas show up. Recommended to those who have enjoyed Riordan’s many books and are looking for something similar.

Edited: Mar 29, 8:53am Top

(43 books read)

Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson — The early adventures of an imaginative boy and his tiger. This first collection is good, and the comic just gets better as it goes along. If you haven’t read it, you should.

Mar 29, 11:40am Top

I do love Calvin and Hobbes. :)

Mar 29, 1:35pm Top

>255 foggidawn: my son has the entire collection! I think I've read most of them.

Mar 30, 3:23pm Top

>256 MickyFine: Oh, same here!

>257 fuzzi: So do I. My copies date back to my teen years, and the oldest ones are a little ratty at this point.

Edited: Mar 30, 3:30pm Top

(44 books read)

Something Under the Bed is Drooling by Bill Watterson -- The continued adventures of an imaginative boy and his tiger. Highly enjoyable. As with most comic strips, you don't have to start with the first book, you can pretty much jump in anywhere.

Mar 31, 5:37pm Top

>255 foggidawn: >259 foggidawn: Calvin and Hobbes was a classic!

Mar 31, 7:41pm Top

>260 thornton37814: Indeed! I’m finding it a nice break for my brain, after a long week of work involving many spreadsheets of statistics. A little of that stuff goes a long way.

Edited: Apr 3, 9:29am Top

(45 books read)

Yukon Ho! by Bill Watterson — The continued adventures of an imaginative boy and his tiger. I’m continuing to enjoy reading about them again, and looking forward to some elements that have not yet made an appearance.

Apr 1, 4:59pm Top

Happy Easter to all who celebrate it this weekend, and Chag Pesach Sameach to those celebrating Passover. My Easter is still a week away, no fooling! But I’m really looking forward to it.

Apr 3, 9:57am Top

I've got a nice new thread all set up -- come visit me there!


Apr 3, 10:43am Top

>264 foggidawn: found it and starred it!

Happy Easter upcoming. :)

This topic was continued by foggidawn reads in 2018, thread 2.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2018

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114,764 messages


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